The initial purpose of my column was to highlight who we are as wine drinkers. Firstly, you ought to know where you fit in and where you find yourself in the quest for wine, to hopefully progress as an enthusiast, experience much more, and in so doing, have fun too. The first thing is to be honest with yourself and stop pretending because, which is what we do when it comes to wine drinking right?
So, this time round I want to further elaborate on the subject and say a few things about ‘what we do’ and later on ‘what we ought to do’ when encountering or ordering wine. What do the majority of us generally do when it comes to choosing a wine? Or to put the question differently, shouldn’t the challenge lie in choosing a good wine and hopefully one from outside our comfort zone?
Don’t tell me you follow ‘Parker’ or the like. Think about how many people have wasted money on big scoring wines sitting in their cellars thinking this is the way to learn about wine – by deferring to an expert, ‘it must be good, let me try it’, and . . . not so much.
Furthermore, it seems that the more experience we have with wine, the more difficult it becomes to discover new varieties that please us. How difficult is it for you to find a wine that makes you ask ‘where have you been all my life? – I love this!’ This happens very seldom, or does it? Well, not if you are prepared to make an effort to find such gems.
Most importantly, stop constantly seeking out bargains. There is every chance that you will be buying rejected wines that have simply been re-bottled or marked down as they would not otherwise sell. On average, you get what you pay for. Good wine is not necessarily expensive, nor old. It’s deep, complex and stays with you long after you’ve tasted it.
I also know how attached we can get to a particular wine label, but be aware, some such labels are sometimes more cutesy, fun or otherwise used as an obvious marketing tool. There is simply nothing about label design or content, or even bottle shape, which can determine what lies within. Having a cork (or not) is no sign of quality. Knowing a little about wine areas makes the quest so much more meaningful, but as I said, more on this later.
Eventually, you may be saying, “But there are so many wines. How do I choose?” The general tasting rules of swirl, sniff and sip are a start, but there’s more to learn when determining if a wine is worthy of your taste buds and cash.
It’s like a Rembrandt drawing hanging in your bedroom – after a while you wouldn’t really notice it. The same with our taste buds. We have an inherent need to search for something new and different. The hunt is fun. In the end, the wonderful thing is that there’s a mysterious aspect to proceedings by which you can’t control or understand everything, which makes discovering new wines so much fun.
Make a start. Try some cooler climate wines that aren’t as ripe, extracted, and alcoholic.